“So my whole thing is that I’m terrified of dying and nobody knowing who I am, you know what I mean?” lays out Tom Rees, frontman of Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. It’s a chilly February evening, and the band are gathered in a Brixton street food market, preparing for their show that evening down the road. They’ve tucked into a wealth of food options, seen the price of a pint (“£5.60 for a pint of Red Stripe!” exclaims drummer Ethan as one makes its way to the bench) and now are deep in chat about being in the heart of a huge moment as a band.
“I’m sure everyone has that feeling, right?” picks up Tom, returning to the subject of making a mark in the world. “For example, if we did a special show in a huge memorial hall and people thought it was an amazing show, then it’ll at least stay in the memory of those in the crowd who came along. I’d be a happy guy knowing that. Like, I just want to last a couple of generations. Then that all can die out,” he smiles.
When new bands come along, that attention can be a fleeting moment, glued into a scene or a specific moment in time where everything seems to make sense. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard sit in something more universal. Combining timeless rock’n’roll, an unstoppable energy of fun-filled spectacle and a feverish dose of joy into proceedings – it’s opening the doors to a simple motto. Throw away your worries and head to the dancefloor, it’s time to party.
“I had this thing, where I was listening to that song ‘Spirit In The Sky’ and I was like, I’m going to write some music free of any kind of idea that I should be writing for someone or that it should fit in a certain way,” recalls Tom. “It was just like, I love this kind of music. I had this malaised idea from being in bands before and the music industry that you needed to be business about this all and think about what would work or fit in. Writing from what I loved naturally, it opened the doors to all of these cool 70s rock bands who were doing the same thing. It all kinda fed from there”.
It’s the first takeaway you get from Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard. Honesty. A catalyst for every element of what they do, it’s the freedom to create those feel-good moments that’s set them aside from the pack.
“That honesty was the most important thing that we developed at the start of the band. We’d all been in other bands that had a bit of a focus on ‘how are we going to appease the industry’ or ‘how are we going to appease that way of thinking to get audiences to believe we’re rock enough for them and therefore rock enough for the world’. We developed quite slowly, and because of that, we fell into this natural way of playing and responding to one another, which is really important,” details Tom.
Starting as a bit of fun on the side from other bands, Tom’s bedroom tracks and demos were built from sneaking in to record at Ethan’s house (“I’d be woken up at like 9:30 and come downstairs to find Tom recording some drums!” remembers Ethan). Alongside his brother Ed and guitarist Zach too – Buzzard grew from its early foundations of just Tom into the fully formed unit that it is today.
“The thing that rules everything in the band, because me and Ethan were in a band when this one started, and it was treated as a hobby,” notes Tom, “was very much turn up when you can and when you do, let’s just have fun.”
That sense of unabashed discovery rings loud and proud. From first single ‘Double Denim Hop’ and its continued build and build of swaggering swings, to the arms aloft stadium-filler ‘Love Forever’, ringing favourite ‘Late Night City’ and latest spinner ‘Hollywood Actors’ – that spirit of grandstand hooks from years gone by is shot straight into who Buzzard are. A tongue in cheek wink with the tracks to back it up, it’s seen wide eyes pick up on their every move, whether it’s touring with Mile Kane or pulling up at venues and proceeding to flip them on their head.
“Yeah, things have really picked up for us,” Tom recognises. “I actually have a lot of worries all the time about whether people will like the tunes, but thankfully they’ve been received really well. There’s a moment of nervousness before we release every track. I do this thing where I stay up till midnight and listen to it on Spotify and usually I cry… Isn’t that fucking awful!”
Connecting with an immediacy that comes from writing 70s inspired glam rock hits grounded in the Cardiff surroundings of everyday life, it’s easy to see why they’re primed to be countless peoples’ next favourite band. It’s also pretty good then that they might just be one of the best new live bands going too.
“We developed this love for ‘the rock show’,” Tom recalls, thinking back to those first shows supporting Boy Azooga in the heart of Cardiff. “That love of the big rock show is why it feels a lot better when we perform live because we’re very theatrical with stuff. We can do it every night, and it comes from that honest place.”
“That’s my thing with rock music more broadly, you’ve gotta kinda have this second voice of honesty that allows you to bring it back from the brink of being too Spinal Tap. It started in that honest place because we didn’t expect that live side to be as big as it is.”
From stage-kicks and flamboyant points to throwing shapes and jumping between instruments, watching Buzzard on stage can only be described as infectious. There’s a vigour that exudes through each and every track, a band treating every room as if it’s Wembley Stadium and thriving with the passion that comes from connecting with everyone gathered.
“Every part of the live show, when we talk in between songs or the humour, it’s all based on just trying to break down people to establish that level of honesty so we can just have fun. Nobody needs to pretend that they’re very cool right now…”
“Like if you go to a Royal Blood concert, suddenly everybody there is like ‘can’t forget my leather jacket’ and ‘I swear to god if it looks like I’m not rocking out right now then people are going to hate me’. I just want to throw away that kind of idea.”
Losing yourself in the moment in a song, in a gig, in a band – that feeling is what Buzzard thrive on. Of hearing something for the first time and immediately wanting to listen to it over and over. Of being a band who guarantee a good time at every occasion, whether it’s slap-bang in a gig or nestled in your bedroom with the speakers loud, it doesn’t matter. “There’s an AC/DC quote that says ‘We’re a rock band. Nothing more. Nothing less’,” recalls Tom. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Rock is great.”
Recent single ‘John Lennon Is My Jesus Christ’ shines a light on their next bold moves. A campfire singalong that plays with the idea of adoration and worship, shimmying and bouncing in equal measure – it lays the path for their next golden steps. Newly signed to Communion, with a slew of live dates under their belt and (when all this clears up – Ed) more stages to conquer, what comes next is even more exciting.
“I think we just…” ponders Tom, taking a moment as he finishes his Thai bowl. “Everything we do just needs to be increasingly interesting like we have this opinion – or at least I do, anyway – that if you’re a band you can keep recycling the same thing, and it can get increasingly stale. Sooner or later people are going to know that the game is up.”
“We want to keep pushing ourselves in more creative ways than just music, I think that’s really important,” Tom continues. “The visual aspects, pushing stuff live so there are more theatrical elements we can bring in. Whoever’s onboard for that and how big that gets… we don’t really care about that. We’re not going for Madison Square Garden here, y’ know?! If people come along for that, enjoy it and experience it then that’s really really cool.”
More than ever, that sense of pushing any cares you may have to the side makes Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard the perfect band to soundtrack those long nights. With a touch of glam, a slice of life, a spoonful of insatiable tracks and a sprinkle of humour, it’s a recipe bound to be a bestseller.
Taken from the May issue of Dork. Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard are taking part in new online festival Homeschool, which runs from 8th-10th May – visit homeschoolfest.com for details.
Words: Jamie Muir